Should we start calling them media shoes instead of minimalist shoes?
Shoes do not make a difference when it comes to running, at least for preventing injuries that is. In light of all the minimalist running shoe craze, we have seen numerous articles hit the press in regards to whether or not they are good for running. For those of you who follow my blog or understand my approach to running, you will realize that shoes really do not play a role at all in running. Our bodies were designed to run. Our feet were designed to absorb shock while running. The problem with shoe gear, or at least shoe gear as most of us know it which has evolved over the last 40 years, affects our feet in a negative way which inhibits our natural shock absorption mechanisms. Many of us want to put on a shoe, feel that squishy cushioned heel and think that it’s going to help us run. Shoes should allow us to run and not enable us to run. Many of my colleagues treat running injuries, as well as many other foot injuries or pathologies, with running shoes and more importantly orthotics. I can assure you that orthotics are nothing more than a Band-Aid to what is going on in regards to your injury. Evaluating your form, training patterns, and allowing proper rest or injuries to heal, will better your running exponentially more than changing your shoes – or should I say relying on shoes or implementing orthotics.
With respect to many of the articles that we are now seeing surface saying minimal shoes create injury or are not helping runners, we are missing the point. To begin with, it is very difficult to study the effects of shoes on runners given each runners variance in training patterns condition, and form. ***Some of these articles are making claims that a large percentage of people are still running with a heel strike gait. Obviously this will be the case, as a majority of the shoes that are on the market today have a cushion heal. Most runners will not alter their gait and will land on there heel given the construct of the shoe. To make the analogy that changing to a minimalist shoe does not reduce injury is impossible. Remember it’s the form, training patterns, and ones ability to remain healthy that makes a difference in running. Not the shoe. As I have said shoes can alter a runners form. While simply switching to a minimal shoe will not reduce your running injury, it definitely will not increase it. That is as long as you’re paying attention to your form. The benefits that exist from a minimalist shoe or a shoe that has less cushion and support is by allowing us to run with natural mechanics. Yes, you can still run with a natural like gait with cushioned or supportive shoes, but it is much more difficult to do. Not to mention we are compromising the range of motion in the foot, ankle, and lower extremity.
To summarize. You can read all of the articles that continue to sprout up in the media in regards to minimalist shoes and injuries, however they are in existence for one reason. It’s a popular subject. The majority of editors writing these articles are completely clueless in regards to runners mechanics, minimalist shoes, proper form, and what exactly a minimalist shoe even is. Remember, they’re writing the article because this is a popular subject that is getting a lot of attention. They are not writing it an effort to help people or demonstrate positive findings. In fact many of the positive findings that are being demonstrated in a lot of these studies that are published recently are being misconstrued by the editors of the media. There’s a reason that medical journals are peer-reviewed. The peers are physicians and medical professionals that understand the research and education principles that go into this research. The media does not.
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